Friday, September 27, 2013

Week 1 in Panamá - Alcalde Diaz

Hi Everyone,

First let me apologize for not sending this out sooner but I have been totally swamped with work. Ok swamped isn’t a very good word, bombarded or buried might sum it up better. Nevertheless here is the email I got from Sister Carmack with a photo (Mission President’s wife and then Alyssa’s email from Monday. A few other things. I know Alyssa mentioned in an earlier email about only being free at the MTC. I logged on yesterday and it says Panama Mission is free. So that is a really good option to write to her. It will allow to get “mail” in hand. You all know missionaries LOVE and thrive on mail. Please write to her if you can I know it will lift her spirits to hear from you. Thanks and love you all!!

To Family Members of Our Newest Missionaries! 

We welcomed 23 new missionaries to the Panama Panama City Mission in the last few days -- 22 hermanas and 1 elder! They received training yesterday and did a temple session together in the beautiful Panama Temple last night. I made dinner for the missionaries and they slept at the temple annex (Casa de Huespedes) last night. Transfers were this morning and the missionaries met their trainers and took a bus out to their new areas. Hermana Wandell will be trained by Hermana Gonzalez from Guatemala. She has been assigned to serve in the Alcalde Diaz district of the Alcalde Diaz zone. I have attached a photo of her with her trainer.

We were very impressed with how dedicated and prepared this new group of missionaries is. We know that they will do a terrific job building up the kingdom of God here in Panama. We will do our best to take great care of them. We have our own missionary son who is in Idaho waiting for a visa to depart to Denmark for his mission so we know how you are feeling.

If you want to follow the mission blog, the address is I try to update it once a week with new photos. The p-day in our mission is on Mondays, so you should be getting your first email from your missionary then. If you wish to send letters or packages (just be aware that it can take several weeks for a mail to arrive), the mailing address for the mission is:

Mision Panama
Carrasquilla Entrega General 0834
Republica def Panama

We are very blessed to be in Panama to help build up the Lord's kingdom. We thank you for sending us such prepared, worthy and dedicated missionaries. We pray that your family will be blessed while you have a missionary serving full-time for the Lord.

Best regards,

Hermana Carmack
(Mission President's wife)

 Now for Alyssa

Hi! I’m alive haha.
Abby I love and miss you too!! I’m glad you liked the “Stick Abby” pictures, it is really hot and rainy in Panama. Super humid. I feel like I am never dry. Please eat some Chick-fil-a for me since I can't. Can’t wait to talk to you on Christmas.

Please tell Lauren congrats for me!!!!! She is going to make a fabulous missionary !!!
I miss fall soooooooooooooooooo much!!! I will answer your questions later in my email. Okay with the envelopes everyday, the next batch don’t tuck the flap inside because thanks to the humidity the glue is getting stuck to the index cards and we have a new address that will only take 2-3 weeks to get stuff here instead of 2-3 months. I will put that later as well.


I loved the package btw, especially the carmels!
Okay so first day in my area we committed someone to baptism.... yeah crazy right!! Se llama Luis, his wife is a member.

2nd day we went to the temple with our zone, one of our zone leaders is from Austraila!! Kinda cool!! He is super nice too. There are 12 people in our zone.
Panama Temple

Alyssa and her companion Hermana Gonzales

So before we got on the bus to go to our area we went to this HUGE mall called Albrook, they have two food courts that’s how big it is. And they have ... wait for it.. Johnny Rockets (her favorite after Chick-fil-a).. and (thank the heavens) PITA PIT!!!!!!!!!!!!! But it’s not open yet! But trust me as soon as it does you better believe I will be there!!!! Probably the only normal.. I mean American food I will get here.
At our house we get home and get in bed and our sheets feel damp thanks to the lovely humidity. We don’t have any food either... there isn’t a super market in our area. So we usually have like a banana for lunch or doritos or whatever we can find at the chinos (mom and pop type local tiny store).

We have a "pet" mouse in our ceiling and a "pet" cucaracha... but we can’t find either of them to feed them or beat them with a broom or a shoe... I mean to love and care for them...

Alcalde Diaz (picture below is what I found on Google) is all hills and stairs... steep hills and stairs... on the bright side I will have rockin’ legs!! (: Oh it is also in the middle of the jungle, at my house there are bamboo trees right outside my window

Alcalde Diaz

Bamboo outside her window

Almost every person that we talk to tells Hermana Gozalez (whom I love, but it’s hard cause she doesn’t speak much English) that I look like a doll. I am 200% positive that I am the only white person in the whole city because every person stares at me... any way my new nick name is la muñeca, cause legit every person calls me a doll...

The language is a lot harder than I was expecting because the Panamanians have really different accents and to add to that they love to mumble, which doesn’t make it any easier for a poor American trying to learn their language. I literally feel like I learned a different language...
The food from the members is good for the most part. Church here is different. We have over 50 wards (probably more) in one city. Here they have 1 maybe 2 branches in one city. More than half the members are inactive. Others who were here in the past just baptized, they didn’t teach, so we have people who are blessing and passing the sacrament but aren’t worthy to do so. Also it isn’t uncommon to run into someone who is 21 and has 1-3 kids already.
It’s really beautiful here, we live in the mountains and it’s really pretty and green. The mountains remind me of home, just not quite as big.
Our house always smells like mold. There is no hot water. Normally when you take a shower it is hot and then you get out and it’s cold. Here it is the opposite. Luckily the roads here are paved, so it wasn’t too hard to get my luggage here. But the airline broke the handle on one of my bags so I have to yank on it in order to get it up. Oh well at least it didn’t come off or something.
So many people we talk to want me to speak in English because they want to learn, so we are going to have an English class every Friday night starting next week. Thank goodness. I have never been so grateful for a language in my whole life until now...
This is hard work. It’s hard to stay positive but I know it is worth it. Knowing that this is blessing my family keeps me from wanting to go home. I miss you guys a lot. And I’m counting down the days. It’s hard being in a new place with a new language, when you are the minority. You don’t know the culture and it is a polar opposite world than what you are used to. But I know I can do it, it could be worse. At least we have clean water to drink. (finding the positive J - proud mama here J)
We have a baptismal service on Saturday. I think that should help lift my spirits and remind me a little more of why I am here. It’s hard but I know that 16 months from now I will wish I was still here. Please hug my Abby for me. Tell her I love her too! I love and miss you both so much. Thank you for everything. I hope the B.O.M. is going well and that you are understanding it. I love you to pieces! TTFN
Hna. Wandell
P.S. I got to see part of the canal the other day and today we are going somewhere called Causeway (picture below is what I found when I googled it) with our district. I love you I love you I love you!! Be safe!!

The Causeway (according to Google)

Panama City

On the Bus


Panama City

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